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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 15, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: i ask consent that the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that when disposition of the paul amendment occurs, the senate proceed to the consideration of h.r. 514, which was received from the house and is at the desk. that the reid-mcconnell amendment at the desk be agreed to that there be 30 minutes of debate equally divide and controlled between the leaders or designees prior to the vote on passage of the bill as amended. there will be no -- the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i
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express my appreciation to everyone involved with this. this has been a difficult issue. but i will put on the record what i've told a number of senators personally, that we will, prior to this expiration occuring, by bring up the patriot act -- bring up the patriot act and have an opportunity for an extended period of time -- a week at least -- to offer amendments and do whatever people feel's appropriate on this bill. i've talked to a couple of senators who have told me specifically they want to offer amendments. although i didn't agree i would support their amendments, one was a democrat, one was a republican, i said that's what we should be able to do, set this up so we can offer their amendments. i will do everything i can to make sure we move forward on this legislation in ample time so that we can extend this patriot act for a more extend period of time, which is so important to the security of the country. i know people have problems with it and that's why we're going to
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have the amendment process. the presiding officer: all time has expired on the amendment. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the question is on the motion to table the amendment. -- amendment of the senator from kentucky. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: s
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vote:
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the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? on this the ayes are 51, the nays are 47. the motion to table is agreed to. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the consideration of the following measure which the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 514, an act to extend expiring provisions of the u.s.a. patriot improvement and reauthorization act of 2005 and so forth. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the substitute amendment is agreed to and there will be 30 minutes equally divided for debate prior to a vote. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president,. the presiding officer: if the senator will suspend. could we have order? the senate will come to order.
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the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: in a few minutes we're going to vote on the expiring provisions of the patriot act. i'll support this extension because it gives the senate time to properly consider this critically important legislation. but before i support any additional extensions of the patriot act, i believe that we should have an honest discussion about changes and reforms that are necessary to protect the constitutional rights of innocent americans. it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the history of the patriot act. the patriot act was passed almost ten years ago after the 9/11 terrorist attack. ground zero was still burning when president bush asked congress to give him new authority to fight terrorism. congress responded, passing the patriot act by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, including my own. it was a unique moment in our history. but even then many were concerned that the patriot act might go too far when it came to
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our constitutional rights tpraoepbd doms. as a result -- and freedoms. as a result we put an insurance policy in the law, a sunset clause one of the patriot's most controversial provisions. i believe that was a thoughtful move on the part of the senate and the house. we knew that we were in a very emotional state because of the dramatic loss of life and fear that followed after the attacks on 9/11. we wanted to reflect on some of the changes and authority given to the government at a later time. i voted for the patriot act, but i soon realized it gave too much power to the government in some areas without judicial and congressional oversight. so two years after the patriot act became law, i led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the "safe" act, legislation to reform the patriot act. the safe act was supported not only by the american civil liberties union, but also by the american conservative union and governors of america. it was an extraordinary
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coalition. progressive democrats and conservative republicans came together across the partisan divide with the understanding that americans believe we can be both safe and free. we wanted to retain the expanded partisan patriot act but place some reasonable limits on those powers within the bound of the constitution. a senator: mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate is not in order. please take your conversations out of the senate. mr. durbin: mr. president, in 2005, the first time congress reauthorized the patriot act, some reforms from the safe act were included in the bill. many were not. so there's still significant provisions in the patriot act which caused concern to this senator. the f.b.i. is still permitted to obtain a john doe roving wiretap that does not identify the person or the phone that will be wiretapped. in other words, the f.b.i. can obtain a wiretap without telling
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a court whom they want to wiretap or where they want to place the wiretap itself. in garden-sraoeurt criminal cases -- variety criminal cases the f.b.i. is still permitted to conduct sneak and peek searches of home without notifying the homeowner until some later time. we know the vast majority of sneak and peek searches take places in cases that don't involve term. a -- we often hear n.s.l.'s compared to grand jury spew spao*e narcotics but unlike a grand jury subpoena, a national security letter is issued without a prosecutor. unlike the grand jury subpoena, the recipient of the letter is subject to a gag order at the f.b.i.'s discretion. the patriot act expanded the authority to issue n.l.s. the n.s.l. allows the f.b.i. to obtain sensitive personal information about americans
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including library records, medical records, gun records and phone records even when there's no connection whatsoever to a suspected terrorist or spy. the justice department's inspector general concluded this standard -- quote -- "can be easily satisfied." this can lead to government fishing expeditions, that target unfortunately innocent americans. for years we have been told there is no reason to be concerned about this power to the f.b.i. in 2003, attorney general ashcroft testified to the judiciary committee that librarians raised concerns about the patriot act were -- quote -- "his ster ricks" -- hysterical and the staffing department had neither the time nor inclination to monitor the reading habits of americans. but we know many years later the f.b.i. has in fact issued national security letters for the library records of innocent americans. for years we were told the f.b.i. was not abusing this power, but in 2007 the justice department's inspector general
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concluded the f.b.i. was guilty of -- quote -- "widespread and serious misuse" of the national security letter authority and failed to report those abuses to congress and a white house oversight board. the inspector general reported that the number of n.s.l. requests has increased exponentially from about 8,500 the year before the enactment of the patriot act to an average of more than 47,000 per year, and that even these numbers were significantly understated due to flaws in the f.b.i. database. i believe america can be safe and free. we can retain the expanded powers of the patriot act but place reasonable limit on them within our constitution. i'll support this extension so we have time to produce legislation we can all be proud of. i know the chairman of the senate judiciary committee is on the floor to speak, and i want to close by saluting him. i think he has taken a very professional approach to this. he has been completely open to the discussion of the provisions of this bill and the offering of
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amendments. i plan to work with him and other members of the committee in good faith. i think this three-month extension will give us time to expand the debate on this important constitutional issue, and will yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i thank the distinguished senator from illinois for his comments. i will put my full statement in the record. i do want to thank the two leaders for working out -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: -- this extension. it includes a number of additional ideas that we did in our bill on january 26. what we do have before us is the bill on january 26 which included suggestions of the distinguished republican deputy leader and others. we have an important sunset provisions that i will -- whatever we end up with must have these sunset provisions.
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i think the republican leader dick armey was correct when he recommended in 2001. the only reason we're going to find if things are misused similar to what's been stated here is if we have these sunset provisions because it forces us to do the kind of oversight we need. so i know other senators are waiting for the floor. as i said, i will put my full statement in the record. but oversight and sunset provisions are critical. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i want to thank the majority leader for agreeing to allow debate on this important legislation. we will have time to amend it in the next three months, discuss it fully. when the patriot act was passed in the first place, it was passed in a hurry, without committee hearings and in a climate of fear and anger after 9/11. congress was sensitive to the fact that the fourth amendment was being abridged, and that's
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why these legislative proposals were sunsetted. it wasn't just so we could pass them by unanimous consent without voting. it was done so we could review how well we're doing with these and whether or not we are bridging the freedoms guaranteed under the fourth amendment. there are a couple of things that really bother me about the patriot act. number one, the national security letters. these have been mentioned previously, and i think the points are well taken. some try to argue these are simply subpoenas so you can do anything you want. i think there are searches of private records and should be reviewed by a judge. even if you argued they were subpoenas, if you have a subpoena, your lawyer is allowed to make a motion to quash your subpoena. your lawyer is allowed to represent you. in the craziness after 9/11 when the patriot act was passed, it was actually illegal to consult an attorney. if you were given a national security letter saying you were being investigated, you could go
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to jail for five years by telling your attorney. it's still in the law that you can go to jail for five years if you tell others. this is being done against u.s. citizens. many people argue for this saying it's just foreign terrorists. national security letters have been written on 200,000 individuals, over 50% of them from the u.s. in the last ten years. in addition to the national security letters, this act expanded the use of what are called suspicious activity reports where they snoop through your bank records. not only does the government snoop through your records, they force the banks to do snooping for you. two million records have gone through. we say are we getting terrorists? yes, we're probably getting terrorists? were we capturing terrorists under fisa? it was rare that fisa ever turned down a warrant. but we just gave up. this is a big deal.
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john adams sthaid this was the spark that got the revolution going when james otis was talking about writs of assistance in the 1760's. the king was granting writs of assistance through his soldiers. now we have essentially government agents akin to soldiers writing warntdzs. it is rife for abuse. even the f.b.i. when they did their own internal investigation, they areviewed 1,000 f these national security letters and found that 10% of them were in error. the area thing for those who say, oh, this is just a subpoena, it's just your bank records, no big deal, should be wary of this: people have gone through the fisa court and been turned down under section 215 and not gotten a warrant and done an end-around and gotten national security letters. i think it is something so basic to our constitutional republic. i tell people on and on, i am a big defender of the second amendment of but you can't have the second amendment unless you
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defend the first amendment of you can't have the second amendment unless you defend the fourth amendment. we need to defend the right to be free of search and seizure. people need to look back and say, did the fisa court work? the fisa court rarely turned anything done as far as getting warns. but there was independent judicial review, which is a very important part of our historical jurisprudence and i think should be guarded and protected. i think in the fear after 9/11, we didn't debate these things fullly. i think we should have a debate. and there's a wide range of people on both the left and the right who do believe in civil liberties. i think it's time we do review these. i will stand up in the next several months and try to promote the discussion of this, and i think it's a good time to review and revisit the patriot act. i will vote against the extension of the patriot act because i don't think that it is doing full justice to the fourth amendment, and i think it is very important that we have judicial review before we allow
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government to investigate and search our private lives. thank you, and i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i ask to speak for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, come to the floor as the chair of the intelligence committee of the senate and also as a member of the judiciary committee. so i've been part of the patriot act and the fisa act discussions. let me clear one thing up for the distinguished senator from kentucky. nothing in what is before us today affects the national security letter sections of the act. let me repeat that. because i've heard this presented on the floor, i've seen it in editorials in the newspapers, and nothing in what is on the floor today affects the n.s.l. sections, which is more than one, of the patriot act. there are three specific sections that are affected rs and i will get to them in a moment.
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let me begin by saying that i support the reid-mcconnell amendment to the house resolution 514. let me point out that last wednesday the secretary of homeland security janet napolitano testified before the house homeland security committee -- and here' here's we said: "in some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly 10 years ago." in testimony to the house intelligence committee last week, the director of national intelligence, james clapper, wrote that "it is impossible to rank in terms of long-term importance the numerous potential threats to united states national security. the united states no longer faces, as in the cold war, one dominant threat. rather, it is the multiplicity and interconnectedness of potential threats and the actors
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behind them that constitute our biggest challenge." so it is clear, mr. president, that the threat against the united states from terrorism, cyber attacks, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and others is at a very high level. intelligence is our best tool in keeping america secure, and i see this intelligence day after day after day. the intelligence committee hears testimony week after week after week, and i believe all members of the intelligence committee are solidly behind the reid-mcconnell bill. so that's the framework in which these three expiring provisions come before us. without them, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies would lack important tools to protect this nation. threes tools that have been used
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to great advantage over the past several years. let me talk about the business records section that will is expiring. this authority allows the government to go to the foreign intelligence surveillance act court, a special court appointed by the chief justice that deals only with these matters, meets 24/7. anybody that uses the business records section must get a warrant to obtain these records. i can't speak here of the specific uses of this authority for reasons of classification, the director of national intelligence, the director of the f.b.i., and the director of the n.s.a. described to members last night how this has been used. they noted -- and i quote from last night -- "we have seen recent successful disruptions of
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terrorist plots directed against the united states. our intelligence and law enforcement personnel were able to disrupt al qaedaes's nassi be aabullah terrorism plot. these patriot act thowrts along with other critical intelligence tools are essential to our ability to detect and disrupt such plots." the second expiring provision, so-called roving wiretap authority, provides the government with needed flexibility in conducting electronic surveillance. we all know that there are now throw-away cell phones. we have found that terrorists have attempted to evade surveillance by using these throw-away cell phones and rapidly switching cell phones.
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this tool alaws for surveillance on a particular target, not the telephone. and, again, you need to have that authority given to you, much as you would in a wiretap by a court -- in this case, the foreign intelligence surveillance court. and, again, the surveillance is foreign. according to f.b.i. director bob mueller, this provision has been used more than 190 times since it was authorized in 2001. the third section, the final one, is the lone wolf authority that allows for court-ordered collection against non-u.s. persons who engage in international terrorism but for whom an association with a specific international terrorist group has not yet been
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determined. this provision was enacted in light of the zacharias moussaoui case in which the f.b.i. suspected moussaoui of engaging in terrorist activity, believed at the time that it would-to-coo not obtain a -- that it could not obtain a fisa order, a fisa warrant, for lack of a defensive medicinive connection to a known foreign terrorist ompleghts i see senator kyl on the floor. he we will knows this issue. so this is a specific addition that was put in because of the moussaoui case to get at someone who is a lone wolf, who has no association with the terrorist operation. these tools have been authorized for several and have been subject to strict scrutiny by the foreign intelligence surveillance act court, the
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department of justice, and the congressional intelligence and judiciary committees. now, members have raised concerns that provisions authorized by the patriot act have been misused. the judiciary and the intelligence committee have held numerous hearings on this topic. i believe past problems have been addressed, and we will continue to monitor the use of these provisions carefully. members have also noted past problems with the use of national security letters, and that's what all the discussion so far that i have heard on the floor has been. as i said, the national security sections are not at issue at this time. so it is, in a sense, a chivalrous to raise them here. it's lone wolf, wiretaps -- the three sections that expire on the 28th of february. so let me be clear.
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this legislation does not address national security letter authorities, as those provisions are not set to expire at the end of the month. now, by extending these three provisions until may 27, the congress can appropriately study them. and i hope enact the long-term reauthorizations that the intelligence community and law enforcement need to continue to keep us safe. and let me just say, mr. president, i see and cannot go into here but day after day uses of these sections and have come to believe that being able to have good intelligence is what prevents a new york subway attack. it's what keeps this homeland safe, and it's what allows us to get ahead of a terrorist attack.
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without them -- without them -- we put our nation in jeopardy. and i, for one, took an oath of office to protect and defend. and i do not intend to be party to that. everything i know indicates that there is jeopardy facing this nation. and these intelligence provisions are necessary to protect our homeland. i urge acceptance of the reid-mcconnell legislation, and i thank the president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: mr. president, i want to agree with the comments made by our colleague from california, the chairman of the intelligence committee, and urge all of our colleagues in the time that will exist between nowed and the time that we are able to take this matter up again to accept her invitation to be briefed and to appreciate
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some of the things that our intelligence community goes through in order to try to protect the american citizens. the points she made are all value lid. from my service on the intelligence committee, i'm aware of what she's been talking about. i would like to repeat three things. i won't bother to go into all of detail because she made the points very, very we will. -- very, very well. but roving wiretaps. the name doesn't sound very good but roving wiretaps are the recreation in addition that today autograph lot of throw-away cell phones. you used to have one phone, usually hanging up in the kitchen someplace. so when the police got a warrant to tap your phone, that was the one. now these thieves get cell phones, throw them away, or they have access to a lot of different phones. today people use lots of different phones rather than one. therefore, the warrant applies to any of the phones of a particular individual.
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the lone wolf terrorist exception, senator feinstein explained very we will. i wrote that provision. and it applies to people who don't have a card in their wallet that say, i belong to al qaeda. or i belong to some other terrorist group. we understood that in some cases there will be people like moussaoui that you're not sure they are actually affiliated with any particular group, but they're still planning a terrorist activity and, therefore, you want the ability to check them out. and third is the business records. this is really the only one that there's been any controversy about. it allows the government to get a court order to obtain business records that are either held or generated by third parties. you want to find out, elogy, if -- you want to find out, for example, if mohamed atta stayed at such-and-such hotel the night before he went to the airport to conduct the terrorist attacks of 9/11. that will help to prove that the chain of evidence to prosecute other people or for us to know exactly how that attack
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occurred. so you go to the hotel and say, do you know who checked in last night? that is not a big deal. for most agencies of the federal government, you don't even have to go to court to ask a question. but out of an abundance of caution here before the government can actually go to the hotel and say, can we see your record, they have to go to court to get approval to do that. so the patriot act actually sets a higher hurdle in trying to get these terrorist investigations in addition to, that there are three top officials at the f.b.i. that are required to request order for the confirmation. these are the only provisions that are sunsetted and that we have to rethighs. if people have objections to other parts of the act, such as has been expressed here, then their argument is not with the reauthorization of these three provisions but with the underlying law. in any event, i suppose they'll have plenty of time to raise those questions when we debate this further in the -- in the next couple of months. but i urge my colleagues to support this short-term
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extension and in the meantime, prior to the rest of the debate that we have, to check with the folks at the intelligence committee who can answer any questions that they may have about how this act is intended to praise and then check with the f.b.i. and other law enforcement officials to see how it works in its operation. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. a senator: i'd ask unanimous consent for three minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: mr. president, montanans sent me to the u.s. senate to bring accountability to this body, to make responsible decisions and to protect american and the freedoms that we all enjoy. i took the oath of office to defend the constitution. that's why i'm going to vote against the patriot act and i encourage others to follow suit. i have never liked the patriot act. i still don't. like real i.d., the patriot act invades the privacy of law-abiding citizens and it tramplez on our constitutional rights. we need to find a balance, making our country more secure and giving our troops, law enforcement, and intelligent agents the tools nose get the
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job done -- tools necessary to get the job done but we have to do it without invading the privacy of law-abiding americans. this extension doesn't address any of those concerns. it simply puts off the debate that we need to have for another day. there is some really troubling things that would be -- not addressed by the extension of this vote. roving wiretaps which allow surveillance of a type of person instead of a particular person over multiple phone lines. that is a slippery slope to eroding our constitutional protection against government searches. using the unreasonable grounds of suspicion standard to require libraries and businesses to respect -- to report to the government about what american citizens buy or borrow. we don't have to sacrifice our privacy and lose control of our personal information in order to be secure. and we should never give up our constitutional rights. voting for the patriot act is the wrong way to go. mr. president, we've got a lot of smart people in this body. we can develop the policies that we need necessary to find
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terrorists without compromising our constitutional civil liberties. i ask my colleagues to join me in voting against extending this law today and into the future. i yield the floor. a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i ask unanimous consent further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, i think all time has either been yield would back or all time is up so i would ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: any other senators wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 86, the
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nays are 12. the bill as amended is passed. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: mr. president, i ask consent that my pending amendments -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. udall: pardon me. i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, i ask consent that my pending amendments number 49 and 51 be modified with the changes that i have at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the amendments are so modified. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i have the same request. i call for regular order with respect to amendment number 7. i send a modification to the desk. the presiding officer: the amendment is so modified. mrs. hutchison: mr. president?
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i have a second-degree amendment to the inhofe amendment at the desk and i ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. mrs. hutchison: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the clerk will report by number. the clerk: the senator from texas, mrs. hutchison, proposes amendment number 93 to the inhofe amendment -- mrs. hutchison: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: and, mr. president, i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules
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of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on pending amendment numbered 7 as modified to the f.a.a. authorization bill. signed by 17 senators as follows: hutchison, kyl, ensign, cornyn, ayotte, thune, chambliss, burr, isakson, moran, risch, shelby, paul, hoeven, mccain, graham and lee. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, the amendment that is now pending for which we have a cloture motion is -- what we are going to try to continue to work on and hope that we can come to a consensus on the issue of the perimeter rule that has caused so much of this bill to be held up. this is a good bill. this is a bill that is going to
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give america the opportunity to start the next generation of air traffic control systems. it is a bill that we must begin now if we are going to go to a satellite-based system, which will free airspace and make our air system work more efficiently for the aircraft that we need to put in the air. it has safety provisions. it has consumer protection provisions. it is so important that we also accommodate the needs of all of our country, the constituents that we have, to be able to have an airport system that works, especially right here in the washington area. so we'll be able to debate this as we go through the next few days. we are waiting for other amendments to also be debated on
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the floor. but i have stood very firm in saying that we need a bipartisan solution to access to the nation's airport in washington, d.c. it is located in virginia, but it is the washington, d.c., airport. and all of the airports in this area now have a robust business, and it is time for us to deal with this in a rational, bipartisan, and responsible way, and that's what senator rockefeller and i have attempted to do and hope that we will continue to do so. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. franken: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. franken: and thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that floor privileges be extended to my legislative fellow, hannah catch, for the duration of consideration of the f.a.a.
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bill, s. 223. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: thank you. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: mr. president, i rise today to talk about health reform and i'd like to start by telling you the story of a little boy named isaac. from the day his parents brought him home as a newborn to isanti, michigan -- isanti, minnesota, he was sick all the time. he had everything from the flu to bronchitis to ear infections. but unlike most little boys, isaac never seemed to get better. his parents, as any parents would, did everything they could to help him. they brought him to every medical specialist they could think of, but no one could figure out what was wrong. finally, isaac was diagnosed with a rare disease called
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common variable immunodeficien immunodeficiency. this means that every two weeks, a nurse has to visit his home to give him the medicine that lets his body fight off germs. without this medicine, isaac's body can't fight off even a common cold. the home visits and i.v. medications that isaac needs are expensive, but isaac's parents had health insurance so isaac was able to have a normal childhood. today, isaac is a 19-year-old college student in minnesota with dreams of becoming an english teacher. here's a picture of him. he's -- he's the one on the right. that's isaac. because of the toll his illness takes, his family decided that isaac should go to school part-time. unfortunately, before the health carhealthreform law was passed,g
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adults over 18 years of age generally had to be in school full-time to stay on their parent's health insurance. and if isaac hadn't been able to stay on his parent's health plan, he would have been in a tremendous bind. his disease is the definition of a preexisting condition. and it would have been nearly impossible for him to find affordable individual coverage. but because of the health reform law that we passed last year, isaac can now stay on his parent's health insurance, regardless of his school status through his 26th birthday. he and his family were able to make the choices that made sense for their family without having to worry about isaac's health insurance. in fact, in a few years when he turns 26, provisions -- a key
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provision of health reform will have kicked in and insurers will no longer be able to discriminate against him or any american because of a preexisting condition. isaac's parents might not be doctors but they are experts when it comes to the needs of their family and they know the truth about what the health reform law has already done for their family. just like isaac's family, minnesotans may not know every word of the health reform law but they are experts on what they need for their own families. let me tell you about another minnesota family who learned about the benefits of the new law. maya, who you can see right he here, is one o of 3 million
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americans with epilepsy. she had her first seizure when she was just three years old. modern medicine has not yet been able to find a way to stop her seizures, but by taking five medications per day, she can control them. recently, maya's father was laid off and the family lost his health insurance. maya's parents suddenly had to confront the possibility they would no longer be able to give maya the medications she needs to fight her daily seizures. without insurance, maya's medications cost more than $1,500 a month, which would quickly bankrupt her family. losing a job is stressful enou enough, but before the health reform law, maya's parents would have had to worry about buying health insurance on the individual market, and because
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of maya's preexisting condition, that would have been almost impossible. fortunately, the health reform law has banned insurance companies from discriminating against children with preexisting conditions. and so her family was able to get on to another insurance plan without being denied. the diagnosis of a chronic illness can happen to anyone at any time. often, like for maya, it doesn't happen because of a lifestyle choice or genetic predisposition. it just -- it just happens. maya was three years old when she was diagnosed. and paying for essential medications and health care services that help control chronic conditions like maya's can easily put a hard-working family into bankruptcy.
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medical costs are "the" cause, wholly or in part, of 62% all bankruptcies in this country. that will change dramatically because of this law. americans will no longer be discriminated against because of preexisting conditions, and insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the dollar amount of care that they will provide. this is an enormous almost incalculable benefit to americans and their peace of mind. the truth is that congress listened to people across this country, people like isaac and maya and their families, by
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allowing kids to stay on their parent's insurance longer. we listened by ending insurance companies' discrimination against women and people with preexisting conditions. and we listened when the american people said that lifetime caps on insurance benefits were forcing millions of chronically ill americans into bankruptcy. the people of minimum believe, as i do, that a family that works hard shouldn't be financially ruined if their kid gets sick. when i was campaigning, i heard this again and again from families across minnesota, and i was listening. the people asked this congress to find a way to make health care affordable for everyone and we did. now, the insurance companies and their political allies want you
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to believe that the only way to keep your premiums low is to cap the amount of benefits that you can receive in your lifetime, but this is just not true. in the health reform law, we worked hard to slow the growth of health care -- of health care costs without abandoning the over one-third of american adults who struggle with chronic disease. the truth is, last year we passed a bill that will save the lives of countless americans and will save billions of taxpayer dollars. that's right. according to the congressional budget office, the referee that everyone here in congress agrees to abide by, whether we like their decisions or not, according to c.b.o., the law saves us money, lots of money. in fact, hundreds of billions of dollars. now, let me say a word about
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c.b.o. to my colleagues. you can't use c.b.o.'s numbers when you like them and then totally dismiss them when you don't. c.b.o. is directed to provide unbiased and independent analysis and estimates. their analysts use the best research available for their scores and projections. in fact, they established an independent review panel of expert health care economists to advise them in their analysis of the health reform bill. not only are the experts' names published on c.b.o.'s web site, but their analysis of the law is public as well. c.b.o. is nothing if not transparent and independent. now, of late we have heard
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members of this body, frankly, mischaracterize process by which c.b.o. does its job. they've said that c.b.o. must rely solely on information and data today them by the majority. garbage in, garbage out. that's a quote. garbage in, garbage out is how they describe it here on the floor. this could not be further from the truth. frankly, i find some of my colleagues' new refrain about c.b.o. disturbing and not a little disingenuous. one of the things that we tried to do in health reform was to take steps that would lower the costs of health care in this country. take, for example, our efforts to reduce administrative costs by streamlining the way health care providers bill for their services.
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this is something i pushed for, because we recently did it in minnesota and it saved $56 million in the first year alone. now, nationwide, that should translate to around $25 billion to $30 billion over ten years. and actually, the health reform law went well beyond what minnesota did, so it's not surprising that outside experts like the -- like those at the commonwealth fund, rand and others estimate much greater savings from administrative simplification, in the range of $162 billion to $187 billion over ten years. so when c.b.o. made their analysis and estimated savings of less than $20 billion for the same period, i admit, i was a little miffed. but i didn't attack c.b.o.
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i accepted their result. and we're all dutybound to do the same, even when c.b.o. projects that the law as a whole will save over $100 billion in the first ten years and over a trillion in the following decade. now, we accomplish the savings with a number of commonsense solutions, like stopping insurance companies from padding their bank accounts with profits from sky-high premiums. as part of health reform, we require insurance companies to spend at least 80% to 85% of the money they receive in premiums on actual health care. actual health care services. it's 85% for large group plans, 80% for small group or individual plans. this is a provision that i championed.
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the other 15% or 20% can be spent on administrative costs: on marketing, or c.e.o. bonuses and on profits. this provision kicked in this year and it will hold insurance companies accountable for costs and help contain health care costs in this country. we also changed the way that health care is paid for in this country by starting to reward quality of care not quantity of course, value not volume in medicare. i was proud to fight alongside senator cantwell and senator klobuchar for the inclusion of a value-based payment modifier in the medicare reimbursement formulas. now, perhaps the most commonsense thing we did to control costs was making sure that everyone has access to preventive care. in minnesota alone, the law will give millions of people access
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to free preventive care. women will be able to get mammograms without any out-of-pocket costs. and starting this year, seniors now have access to free preventive checkups each year without costs. this is completely contrary to claims i've hoard this floor. you know, a large part of the cuts in medicare spending -- not cuts in benefits -- a large part of the cuts in medicare spending are cuts to wasteful subsidies for insurance companies. now, one of my colleagues has taken to the floor and said this law will -- quote -- "cut the funding so people on medicare advantage who like it, who like the preventive medicine activities of it are going to lose those opportunities." he goes to say about the seniors in his state -- quote -- "once they lose this, they are going
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to lose preventive services." this is simply not the case. thanks to this law, everyone -- everyone -- on medicare will enjoy preventive services, so their doctors will catch problems early. seniors know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that's why preventive services under this law will be covered for anyone without -- for everyone without co-pays, contrary to what my friend on the other side says. you know, this is what has bothered me about this debate -- the constant stream of misinformation. this same colleague on the floor said this about the law -- quote -- "it doesn't solve america's doctor shortage, doesn't even address it."
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"doesn't even address it." now, no one is claiming that this bill solves the doctor shortages that we have in thi this -- in this country, but doesn't even address it? there is a whole title in the law that lays out a number of programs, over 96 pages, that make significant investments in the health care work force, especially in primary care physicians. most notably, it created a public health work force loan repayment program that helps recruit and place more doctors, nurses, and other health care providers in medically underserved areas. that's important for states like minnesota. this was an integral and vital part of health reform. anyone who states that this law did nothing to address the shortfall of health care
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providers just has not read the law. we've seen misrepresentations from opponents right from the beginning with the so-called death panels and it continues to this day. medicare recipients are going to be denied preventive care. the law doesn't even address the doctor shortage. c.b.o.'s just fed garbage by the majority and isn't allowed to look at anything else. in november, one of my colleagues cited an oft discrated certification originally made by some republicans on the house ways and means committee. according to one analysis, my colleague said here on the flo floor, the internal revenue service will need to hire 16,000 new i.r.s. employees to enforce the individual mandate. well, that's just not true. some new i.r.s. employees will
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be needed but nowhere near that number, and overwhelmingly, there will there be to administer the tax breaks to small businesses for insuring their employees. what my colleague said on the floor is simply not true, and no matter how many times it is repeated, it will not become true. there was a colloquy from june of last year between two of my colleagues. one -- the first senator that says doctors are leaving medicare -- and that's true, some are. he says, "the president of the state of new york medical society is not taking new medicare patients." then the second senator says, "as well as the mayo clinic." and the first senator answers by responding: "mayo clinic said we cannot afford to keep our doors open if we are taking medicare
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patients." and then he moved on. so is it true that the mayo clinic really isn't taking new medicare patients? mr. franken: well, i called up mayo, which happens to be in my state, to find out and they gave me the facts. you know what? of course it's not true. the mayo clinic has 3,700 staff physicians and scientists and treats 526,000 patients a year. there is one mayo clinic, arizona family practice -- one -- that isn't accepting medicare payment for primary care services. yet this is just part of a time-limited trial for this one clinic with just five physicians on staff. that's it. but this becomes, to quote my
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colleague, "mayo clinic said we cannot afford to keep our doors open if we are taking medicare patients." well, the mayo clinic is the largest private employer in minnesota. and believe me, their doors are still open to new medicare patients. medicare reimbursements are low and mayo has actual lost hundreds of mill -- actually lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last year alone because of it, and mayo, like the rest of minnesota, delivers higher-value care at a lower cost than clinics and hospitals in other states. that's because mayo provides coordinated, integrated care. mayo's outstanding doctors are on salary so they aren't incentivized to order and perform unnecessary and expensive tests and procedures. and mayo's outcomes are second to none. and yet mayo is punished for all of this by receiving low rather
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reimbursements from medicare. that's why i pushed with other colleagues for the value index. that's why we need to pass the so-called doc fix that cancels scheduled cuts to reimbursement rates every year. and by the way -- by the way, the doc fix is something we would have to do whether or not we passed health reform. yet despite all of this, the mayo clinic is keeping its doors open to new medicare patients and should be commended for th that. it shouldn't be accused of closing its doors to medicare patients when it is not. mayo shouldn't be used as a political football. look, i could go on and on and on with these, but the fact of the matter is that if we want to have a debate about the health
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care law, we really should make an effort to present a case based on what's really in the law and what is really happening on the ground. this is what the american people want from us. health care is far too important to the lives of our constituents for us to indulge in gross distortions, obvious omissions, and absurd extrapolations. the american people don't want that. not for something this important. not for something that affects their lives and the lives of people that they love. the american people, mr. president, have given us all tremendous responsibilities.
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minnesotans worry that the floor could drop out from under them at any time and that no one will be there to catch them when it does. they worry about their families. they worry about their friends in their community. we owe it to them to be honest with them and with each other. to be responsible. to be real. so let's get real. now, as i mentioned in my story about mya, the little girl with epilepsy. thanks to the new law she can get health care because insurance companies can't discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. insurance companies will not be able to discriminate against any child or adult with a preexisting condition. in 2014, that's when the mandate kicks in.
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here's what one of my colleagues says about the provision in the law that now allows little 3-year-old mya to be treated for her epilepsy -- quote -- "the health care law allows parents to wait until their child is sick before buying a policy. when only sick people buy health insurance, premiums have to go up as the rate increases more people drop their coverage." well, that's why we have the mandate. the mandate is crucial. if you want to do things like getting rid of denials for preexisting conditions. by the way, the mandate has been a republican idea. the mandate was a republican idea in their 1993 health reform bill. and let me tell you why. see, health care law is like a three-legged stool.
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the first leg is accessibility. everyone needs to be able to buy insurance is that when they get sick or hurt, they can access the care they need. a senator: mr. president? mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: would the senator yield? mr. franken: sure. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i do apologize to the senator from minnesota. i wanted to ask if i could send a modification to my amendment to the desk. mr. president, i send a modification to my own amendment, my second-degree amendment to the desk. the presiding officer: the amendment so modified. mrs. hutchison: thank you, mr. president. and i thank the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: you're very welcome. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: i would not like to interrupt his speech in the record with my interruption.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: i'd like to thank the senator for that courtesy in allowing me to get a drink. honestly, thank you. as i was saying, the -- the health care law is like a three-legged stool. the first leg is accessibility. everyone needs to be able to buy insurance so when they get sick or hurt, they can access the care they need. so we banned insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. banning discrimination against people with preexisting condition preexisting conditions is something that both parties say they like. in fact, in its pledge to americans, the document that republicans ran on in 2010, in the health care section there is the heading -- quote -- "insure access for patients with preexisting conditions.
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and it goes on to say that they will ban insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions. that's their pledge. that makes sense. you see, over one-third of americans have a preexisting condition. actually at the minnesota state fair, a woman in her early 70's came up to me and said, you know, at my age, everything's preexisting condition. now, she was enrolled in medicare, but maya wasn't. and maya's family shouldn't have to choose between doing without the care that they need and going into bankruptcy. but, as my colleague indicated, there is a risk that this provision would incentivize people to buy health insurance only after they get sick. -- sick or hurt, which would drive everyone's costs up.
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so because of this, the second leg of the stool is personal responsibility. we have an individual mandate to make sure that people don't wait until they get sick to go get insurance. and to create a pool of insured people that is large enough to support all the folks had previously unable to get insurance. if everyone has health insurance, everyone will be able to access care when they need it. and, by the way, the rest of us who have insurance will benefit because today we're paying almost $1,000 a year per family in premiums to cover the emergency room visits of people who don't have insurance. but for some people buying health insurance is just too expensive. so the third leg of the stool is affordability. we provide assistance to those families who need to buy health coverage on a sliding scale all
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the way up to 400% of the federal poverty level. so that's our three-legged stool. accessibility, accountability, affordability. we don't discriminate against people with preexisting conditions and so we have a mandate so people don't just wait until they get sick or hurt to get insurance. because you're mandated to get health insurance, or pay a fine, we make sure everyone can afford it. three-legged stool. and if you take any leg out, the stool collapses. you know, when i explained it this way to minnesotans, i find they're no longer confused about the law. they know how important it is to have access to health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions, to take responsibility for themselves and their families, and to have health care that they can afford. but some of my colleagues have been advocating that we cut off
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a leg or even two legs of the stool. but a two-legged stool collapses. and a one-legged stool, well, maybe at best it's a spinning plate. the arguments for repealing this law remind me of an old story that i heard from my tad when i -- dad when i was growing up. now, you don't hear much about this on the senate floor, so i'm going to tell you a little bit about it. it was a beloved 20th century writer who wrote stories and novels and plays in yiddish. the broadway hit, "fiddler on the roof" was based on his writings. in the story that my dad told me, a man borrows a plate from his neighbor. the man takes the plate home and drops it, accidentally, and
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breaks it. he sneaks back into his neighbor's house and replaces the plate -- the broken plate. the neighbor comes home, finds the broken plate and goes over to the guy's house. and basically says, what's the deal with the broken plate? and the guy says, well in the first place i didn't borrow it. in the second place, when i borrowed it, it was already broken. and in the third place, when i returned it, it was in one piece. that's what i'm hearing from the opponents of this bill who want to repeal it. in the first place, we are for banning discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. in the second place, we are against banning discrimination with people with preexisting conditions because then no one
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would buy health insurance until they get sick or hurt and that would drive up the cost of health insurance. and in the third place, we want to repeal the law because it makes healthy people buy health insurance or pay a fine in order to keep the costs of health insurance down. this is -- this is what i hear every day from the opponents to the health care bill -- health reform bill. my opponents -- my opponents -- the opponents of the bill -- my colleagues on the other side pledge that they won't discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. but then they say they don't want to ban discrimination because they don't want to encourage people to wait until they're sick to buy insurance. but they don't want to mandate that people take personal responsibility by buying health insurance. and then they stand up and say that the american people are, to
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quote a colleague, sick of spin. well, i would like my colleagues to stand up and admit that they broke the plate. we owe it to the people who elected us to this body to tell the truth about health reform law. we owe it to the millions of americans whose lives will be changed by the provisions in this law, like isaac, like maya. and already we've seen the positive changes that such reform can bring. look no further than the state of massachusetts, which in 2006, passed its own set of health reforms. and its reforms were similar to what the affordable care act is doing at the national level. including an individual mandate, subsidies an even an exchange. -- and even an exchange. the result has been a huge increase in the number of people
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with health insurance. including an increase in the number of people who get insurance through their jobs. let me put that another way. because of the state's health care reform, more people have health insurance from their employer. at the same time, massachusetts has seen a decrease in the rate in which premiums are going up when compared to the rest of the country. as the rest of the country saw insurance premiums go up by 6.1% from 2007 to 2008, premiums in massachusetts only went up by 5.0%. that's more than 20% less than the rest of the country just a year after this health care reform was passed. that's not a silver bullet, but certainly a step in the right treks for small business owners and for families. and more than 98% of massachusetts' residents have
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health insurance. -- health insurance as compared to less than 84% nationally. i think the effects of health reform in that state are pretty clear. more people are insured. premiums aren't going up as quickly as around the country. and more people are getting their insurance through their employer. the health reform law is not a silver bullet, but hopefully a series of steps in the right direction. and you have to question the claims of my colleagues who say that health reform will cause the sky to fall because there's good evidence to believe that they're crying wolf. yes, you heard me right, chicken little is crying wolf. just ask the people of massachusetts. in a recent poll nearly 80% of
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massachusetts' residents said they wanted to keep health -- the health reform law that they passed in 2006. nearly 80%. now, here's another one. i've heard a colleague urging the repeal of this law say, and i quote -- "we need to allow small businesses to join together to pool together in order to offer affordable health insurance to their workers get better deals with insurance costs." he said this as if it wasn't in the law. in fact, he has said these exact words repeatedly here on the floor each time creating the clear implication that the health reform law does not allow small businesses to pool together to get better deals on health insurance.
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but, in fact, this is exactly why we passed the health reform law that includes health insurance exchanges. we owe it to the american people to tell the truth about this. the truth is that health reform created state insurance exchanges so that health care will be available to the 43 million workers employed by the 5.9 million small businesses around the country. the exchanges will also make affordable health insurance available to -- to the 22 million self-employed americans. within these exchanges insurance companies will compete and offer multiple plans so that everyone can choose a plan that works best for their family. and in all cases they'll be negotiated on behalf of the combined pools of all participating businesses with fewer than 100 employees in the state.
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this will give unprecedented negotiating power and competition that will directly benefit the workers of -- at small businesses. and not just the workers, but especially the owners of those businesses who, by the way, are already receiving tax credits to help them pay for their employees' insurance. the fact is a majority of americans are supportive of what this law is trying to do, and they don't want to go back to the broken system that we had before it passed. they know that it is croocial that -- crucial that american families have health care when they need it, and they know that this law will give millions more american families access to this care while creating jobs and saving money. the truth is that the people have spoken on health care. unfortunately, some of my colleagues have not been
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listening. when you're talking about legislation, it's easy to fall into the trap of either promising the world or warning that it will cause the sky to fall. neither is right, and the reality is far more complex than that. the truth is that the affordable care act will change millions of lives but won't fix a very broken health care system overnight. it was the result of a lot of negotiation and compromise. the truth is the american people want us to move forward and implement this law. they know that some parts of it will work better than other parts. they want us to change what doesn't work and build on what does. they know that provisions like the ban on discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions are already helping families across
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this country, including isaac and including maya. i challenge my colleagues to talk to families with children like isaac and maya. americans are experts on the health care needs of their own families. i've talked to families all over minnesota, and they tell me they need accessible health care, they need affordable health care, and they want to take the personal responsibility to insure their families, but the truth is they need our help. they need us to make sure that the stool keeps standing. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: mr. majority leader. yes. without objection. mr. reid: i have a cloture motion at the desk and ask that it be reported. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on calendar number 25, s. 223, f.a.a. air transportation modernization, safety and improvement act. signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that further reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask consent that the mandatory quorums with respect to the cloture motions be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i'm told that the managers of this bill have some business they still need to transacramento on this matter tonight. -- -- transact on this matter
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tonight.
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mr. rock pearl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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